Archive | March 2018

Quote of the Day!

“I try to live in a little bit of my own joy and not let people steal it or take it.”

HODA KOTB.

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How to Discover and Create Content That Your Audience Craves (and Grow Your Following)

There are times when we all run out of content ideas.

I’ve been in this situation many times myself — feeling unsure about what content to create and share.

However, after much trial and error, I’ve managed to find a few solutions to help keep a constant stream of content ideas flowing. These strategies help me uncover the types of social media content that our audience loves to engage with and share.

And in this post, you’ll learn about six ways to discover the content your audience craves.

Let’s dive in.

How to Discover and Create Content That Your Audience Craves

1. Use your analytics

One of the best ways to find out what your audience likes (or what works for you) is to use your analytics.

Your social media analytics can tell you what’s working and what’s not.

What you’ll want to do is to study your top-performing posts and re-create them. Here’s how to find your top posts with the native analytics in Facebook, Instagram, and more.

Facebook

One way to find your top-performing Facebook posts is to go to your Page Insights > Posts and manually look for posts with high reach or engagement.

Facebook Insights top posts

A shortcut is to use the Pages to Watch feature in the “Overview” tab. When you click on your own Page, Facebook will show you your top posts for the week.

Instagram

To get the analytics for Instagram, you’ll need to have a business account. (Here’s how to convert to a business account if you wish to.)

In your business account, tap on the analytics icon on your profile. Then, tap on “See more” under the “Posts” section. Here, you’ll see your top posts sorted by impressions. You can also sort it by engagement, reach, and more, and adjust the time period.

Instagram Insights top posts

You can also find your top posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest using the respective native analytics.

Buffer customers

If you are using our Pro or Business plan, you can easily find this information in your Buffer dashboard. Go to your Analytics tab and then Posts report. Then, click on “Most Popular” to see your most-engaged posts.

Buffer analytics top posts

You can also sort your top posts by Likes, clicks, comments, and more. If you are on the new Business plan, you can also use the Overview report to find your top posts.

Once you’ve found your top posts, try to find a pattern among them. Here are some questions you could ask yourself:

  • Is there a common topic among them?
  • Is the content from a particular source — your blog or other publications?
  • Does a particular content type — text, image, or video — perform consistently better?
  • Did people leave any interesting comments on those posts?

2. Ask your audience

The second strategy is to ask your audience.

You could simply post a question or a poll on your social media profiles. For example, “What content do you want to see us sharing?”

If you would like open-ended replies, posting a question will be great. If you have a rough sense of what your audience might be interested in, you could create a poll and list a few options. For example, a while back, we created a Twitter poll to ask our followers what sort of content they would like to see more of from us.

A few people also replied the tweet to give us more suggestions.

Twitter poll replies

As Facebook and Instagram (Stories) only allow two options for polls, my favorite way around it is to do a manual emoji poll.

Facebook emoji poll

Alternatively, you could email your blog subscribers and ask them what they would like to see from you. For example, at the end of 2017, we reached out to our blog subscribers with a survey. In the survey, we asked them what topics they enjoy the most and what topics they would like to see more from us.

Blog survey

From the answer, we learned about what to create for the blog and also what to share on our social media.

3. Learn from your industry peers

The third strategy is to learn from your industry peers.

Look at the top pages in your industry and see what is working for them. If you have a similar target audience, what worked for them will likely work for you, too.

It’ll be great to go beyond just your competitors. Are there other companies that you admire, which you can learn from? Maybe because they are in the same space but aren’t your direct competitor. Or perhaps their way of marketing resonates with you. For example, I often like to check out the social media profiles of HubSpot, MailChimp, and Airbnb.

Here are a few ways to research on your favorite companies:

Facebook

On Facebook, you could use Pages to Watch. This feature allows you to quickly compare the performance of your Page with similar Pages. You can also click on any of the Pages and see their top posts for the week. For instance, here’s a recent top post from Shopify:

Facebook Pages to Watch top posts

You can find this feature in your Page Insights, at the bottom of your Overview tab. This feature will only appear once you have more than 100 Likes on your Page.

Twitter

On Twitter, you could create a Twitter list of the companies that you would like to learn from and regularly check out what they share.

Here’s how to create a Twitter list:

  • Click on your profile photo and select “List”
  • Click on “Create a list” and fill out the fields (You might want to keep this list private)
  • Hit “Save list”

Twitter list

Once you’ve created your list, head to the companies’ profile, click on the three dots, and select “Add or remove from lists…” to add them to your list.

A tool I like to use to monitor several lists at the same time is TweetDeck. It is a free tool by Twitter, which allows you to have multiple columns of tweets from a list, search result, and more.

TweetDeck

Here’s a point worth noting: while it’s great to learn from your favorite companies, you might not want to follow them exactly. This is because ultimately your brand is different from theirs and you would likely want to be unique with what you’re sharing on your social media profiles.

The point here is to look for general patterns and ideas that you can adapt for your own brand.

4. Use a research tool

The fourth strategy is to use a content research tool like Buzzsumo.

Buzzsumo is like Google for the most shared content. You can search for any keywords (e.g. “social media marketing”), and Buzzsumo will show you the most shared content that’s relevant to the keyword.

Look through the results and see if you can identify the popular topics around that particular keyword.

What is also helpful is that Buzzsumo breaks down the share count by networks. So you can see if a piece of content is more popular on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo also allows you to sort the results by social network. For example, maybe you want to see what types of articles are popular on Twitter. You can click on the “Twitter Shares” header, and Buzzsumo will sort the articles by the number of shares on Twitter.

Buzzsumo sort

This is also a great way to find quality content to share on your social media profiles. If an article has done really well on Twitter in general, it would likely resonate with your audience, provided that it is relevant to them.

5. Create marketing personas

The fifth strategy is to create marketing personas. Your marketing personas will give you ideas on what content to create and share on social media.

Here’s what a persona is and why it’s important, according to Adele Revella, the founder and president of The Buyer Persona Institute1Content Marketing Institute, 2015 (Emphasis added) :

… a buyer persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.

Without personas, you may only be guessing what content your audience wants, which means you are more likely to revert to creating content around what you know best (your products and company) instead of around the information your audience is actively seeking.

Marketing persona template

Once you have done your research and created your marketing personas, you’ll have a better sense of your core audience’s goals and challenges, and the content that they want to read.

To help you with this, here’s our beginner’s guide to creating marketing personas.

Experiment with Jobs To Be Done

Besides creating personas, you could also try the Jobs to Be Done methodology (we’ve tried both ourselves!)

Jobs to Be Done is a concept created by Harvard Business School professor, Clayton M. Christensen, and his team. The idea is that understanding the jobs our customers want to do (or the reasons they buy products) is more useful in helping us create and sell great products than just having demographic information.

Here’s a short video about the methodology and how Intercom uses it for marketing:

How does this apply to creating content that your audience loves?

By understanding the jobs that your customers want to do, you can create and share content that helps them with those jobs.

For example, we have been creating content that helps our readers with their social media strategy, content creation, engagement, and more. And those blog posts seemed to have resonated with our readers. (You might have noticed in the survey results I shared above, we phrased each option as “Content that helps me with (a job)” rather than just the topic.)

6. Follow trends

The final strategy is to keep an eye out for general trends in the social media space and follow them. This will help you get a general sense of the types of content to post. While it won’t be very specific to your audience, I think it can still be helpful.

For example, the top content format now is video. In our 2018 Social Media Trends report, we pointed out that “video posts have the highest average engagement and twice the level of engagement of other post types on average”2Buzzsumo, 2017. Also, according to our State of Social 2018 report, we found that 85 percent of businesses would like to create more videos in 2018.

State of Social 2018: Content Types

Does that you mean you should be creating videos?

I think it’ll be great to experiment with a few videos if your resources allow and see how they perform. You can create simple videos without a big budget using tools like Animoto and Lumen 5 (and more here). If you are keen, here’s our step-by-step guide to creating engaging social media videos.

Over to you: How do you find out what your audience likes?

The key to growing your following and engagement on social media is to create content that your audience craves. Here are six ways of discovering that content:

  1. Use your analytics
  2. Ask your audience
  3. Learn from your industry peers
  4. Use Buzzsumo
  5. Create marketing personas
  6. Follow trends

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Creating Content? Here’s What Editors Want You to Know

 If the latest content marketing trends show us anything, it’s that content is truly here to stay. Research from Content Marketing Institute indicates that fully 89 percent of B2B marketers use content, and 86 percent of B2C marketers do, too.

That’s good news because it suggests that the results of content marketing have been effective over the years. There is a downside, however: As more and more brands execute content marketing strategies, that means there’s a huge amount of content competing for audience attention, engagement, and loyalty.

It all comes down to your ability to get your content to the right people in your audience when they need it. Obviously, the right content tools can help you here, as can a solid social media plan to distribute content on your various platforms.

But another effective way to improve your ability to reach and engage your audience is by creating content for the media outlets and publications they trust. This approach can help your content cut through the noise because you get to share insights with the members of your audience right on the platforms they’re already on.

In order to get there, though, you have to earn your place, and that means sending editors the kind of content they want to publish. To find out what that is, my team recently asked editors what they’re looking for, and we published the results of our research in “The State of Digital Media 2018.”

Knowing what editors are looking for is crucial for guest posting, but it’s usually a good indication of what your audience wants, too. So, to help you create better content and truly engage your audience members wherever they may be, here are three key findings that can influence your strategy:

1. Sixty-seven percent of editors are looking to publish video content this year.

Video is (still) on the rise. Over the years, it’s been one of the biggest trends we’ve seen in content marketing. According to Cisco, video traffic will account for a staggering 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2021, a 9 percent increase from 2016.

Video has its own advantages in terms of branding as well. It’s highly effective for storytelling, and a good story is the key ingredient in creating an emotional connection with your audience. Whether it’s a how-to video or a behind-the-scenes piece, audiences continue to demand video, which means publication editors — 67 percent of them, according to our research — are determined to deliver it.

2. Ninety-three percent of editors use page views as a metric for success.

It’s no secret how powerful social media is for spreading a message, so I see a lot of content marketers assuming that social share counts must be the most accurate measure of the success of a particular piece of content.

The reality, though, is that trends in social media engagement are changing how we think about the share count. Having your audience members hit the “Share” button is good, sure, but it’s not necessarily the best indicator that they are actually consuming your message. As a result, most editors rely on a combination of metrics to determine guest content success: 93 percent use page views, and 75 percent report using time on site.

3. Seventy-nine percent of editors say content is too promotional.

No one — not your readers, not publication editors, probably not even your own mom — wants to spend their time reading all about how great your company is. (OK, maybe your mom still loves to hear about how awesome you are, but is that who your target audience is?)

Content marketing depends on delivering something that your audience members actually want or need. Whether you’re entertaining them, educating them, or exposing them to something new, you need to create content that keeps them coming back.

Blatantly selling your products or services will never fit the bill. While you might think that would be obvious, somehow 79 percent of editors are still getting overly promotional pitches for guest content. Consumers are seeking authenticity, and they can smell the opposite from a mile away. It might seem like promotional content will have the biggest impact on your bottom line, but if you focus on providing value, you’ll really reap the benefits of your investment.

As you continue to develop your content strategy, keeping these statistics in mind will help direct your efforts and improve the effectiveness of your content. Catering to editors and delivering the types of content they’re looking for is the first step. Once you’ve earned the right to guest post, your job is to deliver something of true value to your audience. If you can pull this off, you’ll be able to cut through all the other noise and earn your audience’s loyalty.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

4 reasons to align your sales and marketing teams

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Tereza Litsa

Your company’s marketing and sales teams don’t have to work apart. They may focus on different goals, but they still need to report on how their KPIs are linked to the business goals. That’s how they can both benefit by working closer together.

This means that many companies acknowledge the power of aligned teams but they’re still not ready to do this in action.

What are the actual benefits then of bringing together marketing and sales?

Shared vision

When teams come together, they are able to understand better each other’s goals. The marketing team can learn more about the sales targets, while the sales team can understand how the marketing funnel works and why it’s important to create a strategy across all stages.

By spending more time together, the teams are able to acknowledge how each division works towards their vision. Most importantly, they are able to perceive how a shared vision can bring a new more holistic idea of the company. This helps them have a clear picture of how their work goes beyond their team and how it can benefit multiple departments.

Facing the challenges together

Every team has different challenges that have to do with the available resources, the budget, the time restrictions, or any other important priorities. This doesn’t mean that they can’t communicate the challenges with other teams to ensure that they can contribute to their solution.

For example, if the sales team faces the challenge of meeting their revenue target, the marketing team can jump over and suggest an increased marketing activity that can lead to more incoming leads and prospects.

Similarly, if the marketing team has trouble in understanding how their work moves along the funnel, they can ask for the sales team to update them on the prospects that turn into customers. This will help in exploring more details about the marketing attribution points and how they help them meet their targets.

Improving communication and learning from each other

A great benefit of having the marketing and sales team work together is the increase of transparency.

An improved communication of the targets, the challenges, and the expectations leads to a more organized company. This can enhance the team building, the team collaboration and also the achievement of the key targets.

Moreover, team members can learn from other departments different perspectives on how everyone works towards the wider business goals. This can also lead to a further interest in other areas of the company and even new skills that can improve a team’s productivity.

For example, the sales team can learn more about inbound marketing to help them explore how this reflects the sales targets.

Meeting the targets and improving efficiency

Another benefit of having the marketing and sales team come together is the ability to act as a bigger close-knit team that works towards the bigger goals.

By breaking the silos a company manages to make them feel part of a bigger team that wants to meet the key targets. For example, a marketing team that meets the key goals should still be aware of the wider business goals. If the revenue is not going as expected despite a successful marketing strategy, then the outcome would still require an improved efficiency.

And that’s how the different teams can benefit from working together to achieve the wider goals while helping each other.

This can improve a company’s productivity while boosting the team morale that everyone works hard towards a common goal.

What’s next

There is an increased interest in marketing and sales team to start working closely together, in an attempt to meet the modern business world’s demands.

The next challenge is to convince more companies to bring the teams together to explore the multiple benefits of it.

It’s time to discover the best ways to bridge the gap between marketing and sales and how this can work towards an improved customer experience.

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Want More Instagram Followers? Here Are 3 Foolproof Ways

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By: Jenn Herman

Inevitably, people often ask me a number of questions about Instagram strategies. One of the most common topics is hashtags (we’ll talk about that in a sec). And one of the other most common questions I get is how to grow your Instagram followers. While I’ve answered this question in many different ways and in many different places, I decided to wrap it all up in one pretty post right here for you to reference.

But, before I jump into my tips for growing your Instagram audience, I want to take a hot minute to discuss why my tactics might not be the quick fix answer you’re looking for.

My tips have nothing to do with buying followers, doing like-for-like games, or otherwise trying to game the system. These tips require you to actually do the work of interacting with others and creating quality content. So, if that’s not something you are prepared to do, you can totally stop reading this now 😉

I don’t encourage any sort of manipulative tactics or buying followers because they don’t generate honest engagement, loyal audiences, or authentic branding for you.

Alright, so, let’s dive in!

1. Contests

Running a contest on Instagram is relatively easy and doesn’t come with a lot of restrictions (though there are some). They take a little work on your behalf to execute them effectively, but they are highly rewarding when done well. For more of my tips on running a successful Instagram contest, you can read this post on my blog.

In order to use a contest to generate more followers, I recommend keeping the contest entry simple. One criterion is to follow your account. The second is to tag a friend in the post comments. That’s it.

Why?

Because it makes your followers do all the work for you. And if your prize is something they actually want (hint, it should be!), then they’re happy to tag friends in the post comments as a chance to win. When a current follower of your account tags a friend, and let’s say that friend wants a chance to win, they’ll follow your account now too and tag one of their friends. And so the cycle continues. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of work from your audience. Meanwhile, you just sit back and watch the new followers roll in.

Here’s an example of a contest I recently ran with the same format:

Of course, depending on your audience, the prize, the duration of the contest, and some other factors, you may gain 10 new followers or you may gain 1000. But it is a steady tactic for follower growth.

In order to increase the effectiveness of this method, I recommend doing it consistently. It could be once a month or once a quarter – whatever works for you. But the more often you do it and your audience gets used to it, the more likely they are to participate and increase the participation.

Hashtags

Yes, I told you we’d talk about hashtags. I do love the power of a hashtag (or 10 or 20) on Instagram. Why? Because when you use the right hashtag recipe, you can consistently rank as a top post in your most targeted hashtag searches. That, in turn, increases the views and exposure to new people on Instagram.

I’ve previously shared my formula for strategic hashtag use, and you can read that here. I do encourage you to take a few minutes to read it and understand the strategy behind the combination of hashtags I recommend.

In a nutshell: The method calls for you to combine When you use this method of combining

  • Popular hashtags
  • Moderately popular hashtags
  • Highly targeted hashtags and…
  • Branded hashtags

By doing this, you create a scenario where your content is likely to appear as a top post in the targeted hashtag categories.

When people search these hashtags and see your content at the top of the search, chances are they will view it, engage with it, and potentially even navigate to your profile where they may follow you.

And, because they found you in a highly targeted topic of search, they are likely your ideal target audience. So it’s a win-win targeted growth method for your account.

Stalk Event Hashtags

This is my secret sauce recipe that I tell everyone. So really it’s not so secret! But it works – so I don’t wanna keep it a secret!

To do this, you’ll need to find the event hashtags related to your industry, business, or niche. It could be conferences, shows, performances, or even hobby related hashtags where your target audience is likely to be creating content.

For example, my target audience is small business owners and marketers new to social media marketing.

These people often go to social media conferences. So I find the hashtags for everything from small, local conferences to large national conferences. (These include Social Media Day San Diego, Inbound, Social Media Marketing World, Social Camp).

If you’re in the fashion industry, you might want to consider hashtags for local or popular fashion shows (not necessarily NYFW cuz that’s kinda massive. But others would be good). If your target audience is pet owners, think about dog shows, fairs where animals are being shown, local pet store events or charities, etc.

How To ‘Stalk an Event’

The key is to find the hashtags for events and venues where YOUR target audience is likely to be.

Then, you want to go through and stalk that event hashtag. You could choose to follow the hashtag but that still won’t show you all of them. So it’s best to go into the actual hashtag search on Instagram.

Scroll through and “like” as many of the posts in that hashtag gallery as possible. Just make sure they’re relevant and that the content is not inappropriate.

Smaller events are easy because you can scroll through once a day and hit all the posts. Bigger events, with thousands of posts uploaded, can be harder to manage. Just do what you can to go through and engage frequently.

Here’s why this works

The chances are that a lot of people uploading posts are uploading more than one to that hashtag. If you’re going through and liking their posts as they appear in the hashtag feed, you’re popping up repeatedly in their notifications. You don’t have to follow them or do anything but ever-so-nicely like their posts. And now they see your name in their notifications.

They think, who’s the person liking all my stuff? They come over, check out your profile, and (hopefully) realize that you’re someone they should follow. Boom! Another new follower.

When using this tactic for events, you can gain a handful of new followers or you can gain hundreds. The key is that they are all highly targeted new followers and you didn’t harass them into following you or getting their attention. You simply did something nice by liking their posts and they made the decision to follow you 🙂

In Closing

There are actually a number of other ways your brand can get discovered on Instagram and build your audience. Using Stories with location tags (and/or hashtags) will give you opportunities to show up in those searches and more. High performing posts help you rank in the search algorithm. That may help you appear as “Recommended For You” content in new users’ feeds.

These are both powerful opportunities for new exposure. I didn’t include them specifically in my top tips because they rely a lot on the algorithm and some luck. You can be strategic with these methods but their results aren’t as consistent as the three tips I mentioned above.

I hope these tips help you to grow your Instagram followers in an authentic and targeted way. Yes, my strategies will take longer than the overnight tactics that are out there. But the quality followers, engaged users, and soon-to-be-loyal fans you’ll develop, are worth the extra work!

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up and Growing Your YouTube Presence

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

When was the last time you saw a video on YouTube? I bet you’ve seen one today. YouTube is too huge and too popular for marketers to ignore.

If you don’t have a YouTube channel, now’s the time to start one.

If you have a channel and you never got it off the ground, now’s the time to take action.

This article will take you through the process of setting up your YouTube presence, listing steps, tools, and important tips to get you started and moving forward.

1. Define your goals

If your goal is to become a YouTube star, you might be a bit late to the party: it’s really hard to get noticed these days — too competitive. Stardom will take years of hard work to achieve because of the number of channels users have to choose from.

Even back in 2014, when I was reading about YouTube celebrity bloggers, one quote really stood out to me:

“We think, if we were coming to YouTube today, it would be too hard. We couldn’t do it.”

That’s not to say, however, that you cannot achieve other, more tangible goals on YouTube. It’s an excellent venue for business owners and marketers.

Here are three achievable goals that make more sense than fame from a business perspective:

1.1. YouTube for reputation management

Here’s one thing about reputation management on Google: You’re never finished.

Even if your reputation is fabulous and you love every single result that comes up in the SERPs for your business name, you may still want to publish more content around your brand.

The thing is, for reputation management purposes, the more navigational queries you can control, the better:

Reputation

YouTube is the perfect platform for reputation management. YouTube videos rank incredibly well in Google, especially when it comes to low-competition navigational queries that include your brand name.

Furthermore, YouTube videos almost always get that rich snippet treatment (meaning that Google shows the video thumbnail, author, and length of the video in the SERPs). This means you can more easily attract attention to your video search result.

That being said, think about putting videos on YouTube that:

  • Give your product/service overview
  • Show happy customers
  • Visualize customer feedback (for example, visual testimonials beautifully collected and displayed in a video)
  • Offer a glimpse inside your team (show people behind the brand, publish videos from events or conferences, etc.)

1.2 YouTube videos for improved conversions

Videos improve conversions for a clear reason: They offer a low-effort way for your customer to see why they need your product. Over the years, there have been numerous case studies proving the point:

  • An older study (dating back to 2011) states that customers are 144% more likely to add products to a shopping cart after watching the product video
  • Around 1 in 3 millennials state they have bought a product directly as a result of watching a how-to video on it
  • This Animoto survey found that almost all the participants (96%) considered videos “helpful when making purchasing decisions online”
  • Wistia found that visitors who engage with a video are much more likely to convert than those who don’t

That being said, YouTube is a perfect platform to host your video product overviews: it’s free, it offers the additional benefit of ranking well in Google, and it provides additional exposure to your products through their huge community, allowing people to discover your business via native search and suggested videos.

1.3 YouTube for creating alternative traffic and exposure channels

YouTube has huge marketing potential that businesses in most niches just cannot afford to ignore: it serves as a great discovery engine.

Imagine your video being suggested next after your competitor’s product review. Imagine your competitors’ customers stumbling across your video comparison when searching for an alternative service on Youtube.

Just being there increases your chances of getting found.

Again, it’s not easy to reach the YouTube Top 10, but for specific low-competition queries it’s quite doable.

Note: To be able to build traffic from inside your YouTube videos, you need to build up your channel to 10,000 public overall views to qualify to become a YouTube partner. Once approved, you’ll be able to add clickable links to your site from within your videos using cards and actually build up your own site traffic via video views.

2. Develop a video editorial calendar

As with any type of content, video content requires a lot of brainstorming, organizing, and planning.

My regular routine when it comes to creating an editorial calendar is as follows:

  1. Start with keyword research
  2. Use question research to come up with more specific ideas
  3. Use seasonality to come up with timing for each piece of content
  4. Allocate sufficient time for production and promotion

You can read about my exact editorial process here. Here’s a sample of my content roadmap laying out a major content asset for each month of the year, based on keyword research and seasonality:

Content roadmap

For keyword and question research I use Serpstat because they offer a unique clustering feature. For each keyword list you provide, they use the Google search results page to identify overlapping and similar URLs, evaluate how related different terms in your list are, and based on that, cluster them into groups.

Keyword clustering

This grouping makes content planning easier, allowing you to see the concepts behind keyword groups and put them into your roadmap based on seasonality or other factors that come into play (e.g. is there a slot/gap you need to fill? Are there company milestones or events coming up?).

Depending on how much video content you plan to create, you can set up a separate calendar or include videos in your overall editorial calendar.

When creating your roadmap, keep your goals in mind, as well. Some videos, such as testimonials and product reviews, won’t be based on your keyword research but still need to be included in the roadmap.

3. Proceed to video production

Video production can be intimidating, especially if you have a modest budget, but these days it’s much easier and more affordable than you’d imagine.

Keeping lower-budget campaigns in mind, here are few types of videos and tools you can try out:

3.1 In-house video production

You can actually handle much of your video production in-house without the need to set up a separate room or purchase expensive gadgets.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Put together high-quality explanatory videos using Animatron (starts at $15/month): Takes a day or so to get to know all the available tools and options, but after that the production goes quite smoothly
  • Create beautiful visual testimonials, promo videos, and visual takeaways using Animoto ($8/month): You don’t need much time to learn to use it; it’s very easy and fun.
  • Create video tutorials using iMovie (free for Mac users): It will take you or your team about a week to properly figure out all its options, but you’ll get there eventually.
  • Create video interviews with niche influencers using Blue Jeans (starts at $12.49/month)
  • Create (whiteboard) presentations using ClickMeeting (starts at $25/month): Host a webinar first, then use the video recording as a permanent brand asset. ClickMeeting will save your whiteboard notes and let you reuse them in your article. You can brand your room to show your logo and brand colors in the video. Record your entire presentation using presentation mode, then upload them to your channel.

Clickmeeting

3.2 How to affordably outsource video production

The most obvious option for outsourcing video production is a site like Fiverr. Searching its gigs will actually give you even more ideas as to what kinds of videos you might create. While you may get burned there a few times, don’t let it discourage you — there are plenty of creative people who can put together awesome videos for you.

Another great idea is to reach out to YouTube bloggers in your niche. Some of them will be happy to work for you, and as a bonus you’ll be rewarded with additional exposure from their personal branding and social media channels.

I was able to find a great YouTube blogger to work for my client for as low as $75 per video; those videos were of top quality and upload-ready.

There’s lots of talent out there: just spend a few weeks searching and reaching out!

4. Optimize each video page

When uploading your videos to YouTube, spend some time optimizing each one. Add ample content to each video page, including a detailed title, a detailed description (at least 300–500 characters), and a lot of tags.

  • Title of the video: Generally, a more eye-catching and detailed title including:
    • Your core term/focus keyword (if any)
    • Product name and your brand name
    • The speaker’s name when applicable (for example, when you post interviews). This may include their other identifiable personal brand elements, such as their Twitter handle
    • Event name and hashtag (when applicable)
    • City, state, country (especially if you’re managing a local business)
  • Description of the video: The full transcript of the video. This can be obtained via services such as Speechpad.
  • A good readable and eye-catching thumbnail: These can be created easily using a tool like Canva.

Use a checklist:

Youtube SEO checklist

5. Generate clicks and engagement

Apart from basic keyword matching using video title and description, YouTube uses other video-specific metrics to determine how often the video should be suggested next to related videos and how high it should rank in search results.

Here’s an example of how that might work:

The more people that view more than the first half of your video, the better. If more than 50% of all your video viewers watched more than 50% of the video, YouTube would assume your video is high quality, and so it could pop up in “suggested” results next to or at the end of other videos. (Please note: These numbers are examples, made up using my best judgment. No one knows the exact percentage points YouTube is using, but you get the general idea of how this works.)

That being said, driving “deep” views to your videos is crucial when it comes to getting the YouTube algorithm to favor you.

5.1 Create a clickable table of contents to drive people in

Your video description and/or the pinned comment should have a clickable table of contents to draw viewers into the video. This will improve deep views into the video, which are a crucial factor in YouTube rankings.

Table of contents

5.2 Use social media to generate extra views

Promoting your videos on social media is an easy way to bring in some extra clicks and positive signals.

5.2.1 First, embed the video to your site

Important: Embed videos to your web page and promote your own URL instead of the actual YouTube page. This approach has two important benefits:

  • Avoid auto-plays: Don’t screw up your YouTube stats! YouTube pages auto-play videos by default, so if you share a YouTube URL on Twitter, many people will click and immediately leave (social media users are mostly lurkers). However, if you share your page with the video embedded on it, it won’t play until the user clicks to play. This way you’ll ensure the video is played only by people who seriously want to watch it.
  • Invest time and effort into your own site promotion instead of marketing the youtube.com page: Promoting your own site URL with the video embedded on it, you can rest assured that more people will keep interacting with your brand rather than leave to watch other people’s videos from YouTube suggested results.

There are also plenty of ways to embed YouTube videos naturally in your blog and offer more exposure. Look at some of these themes, for example, for ideas to display videos in ways that invite views and engagement.

Video sharing WordPress

5.2.2 Use tools to partially scale social media promotion

For better, easier social media exposure, consider these options:

  • Investing in paid social media ads, especially Facebook ads, as they work best for engagement
  • Use recurring tweets to scale video promotion. There are a few tools you can try, such as DrumUp. Schedule the same update to go live several times on your chosen social media channels, generating more YouTube views from each repeated share. This is especially helpful for Twitter, because the lifespan of a tweet is just several minutes (between two and ten minutes, depending on how active and engaged your Twitter audience is). With recurring tweets, you’ll make sure that more of your followers see your update.

  • A project I co-founded, Viral Content Bee, can put your videos in front of niche influencers on the lookout for more content to share on their social media accounts.

5.3 Build playlists

By sorting your videos into playlists, you achieve two important goals:

  • Keeping your viewers engaged with your brand videos longer: Videos within one playlist keep playing on autopilot until stopped
  • Creating separate brand assets of their own: Playlist URLs are able to rank both in YouTube and Google search results, driving additional exposure to your videos and brand overall, as well as allowing you to control more of those search results:

Playlists

Using playlists, you can also customize the look and feel of your YouTube channel more effectively to give your potential subscribers a glimpse into additional topics you cover:

Customize Youtube channel

Furthermore, by customizing the look of your YouTube channel, you transform it into a more effective landing page, highlighting important content that might otherwise get lost in the archives.

6. Monitor your progress

6.1 Topvisor

Topvisor is the only rank tracker I am aware of that monitors YouTube rankings. You’ll have to create a new project for each of your videos (which is somewhat of a pain), but you can monitor multiple keywords you’re targeting for each video. I always monitor my focus keyword, my brand name, and any other specific information I’m including in the video title (like location and the speaker’s name):

Topvisor

6.2 YouTube Analytics

YouTube provides a good deal of insight into how your channel and each individual video is doing, allowing you to build on your past success.

  • You’ll see traffic sources, i.e. where the views are coming from: suggested videos, YouTube search, external (traffic from websites and apps that embed your videos or link to them on YouTube), etc.
  • The number of times your videos were included in viewers’ playlists, including favorites, for the selected date range, region, and other filters. This is equal to additions minus removals.
  • Average view duration for each video.
  • How many interactions (subscribers, likes, comments) every video brought.

Youtube Analytics

You can see the stats for each individual video, as well as for each of your playlists.

6.3 Using a dashboard for the full picture

If you produce at least one video a month, you may want to set up a dashboard to get an overall picture of how your YouTube channel is growing.

Cyfe (disclaimer: as of recently, Cyfe is a content marketing client of mine) is a tool that offers a great way to keep you organized when it comes to tracking your stats across multiple platforms and assets. I have a separate dashboard there which I use to keep an eye on my YouTube channels.

Cyfe Youtube

Conclusion

Building a YouTube channel is hard work. You’re likely to see little or no activity for weeks at a time, maybe even months after you start working on it. Don’t let this discourage you. It’s a big platform with lots of opportunity, and if you keep working consistently, you’ll see your views and engagement steadily growing.

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Road Map to Success: Creating the Content of Your Audience’s Dreams

road-map-content-creation

In 1995, Steve Jobs was interviewed by Robert Cringely for a PBS documentary, Triumph of the Nerds. During the on-camera discussion, the future Apple CEO reflected on the notion that generating big ideas isn’t the same thing as being able to bring them to life in a valuable way. As he said, “There’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product.”

It’s a distinction that most content marketers are familiar with – especially if it’s your job to spin rough, disorganized insights and ideas into high-performing content gold.

From an outsider’s view, it can be easy to assume content creators simply generate imaginative ideas, write (or record) them, and then publish them as a blog post, email message, or other content piece. But while those tasks are certainly key parts of the creative equation, a lot more has to happen behind the scenes if those creative assets are to perform successfully as a marketing vehicle – i.e., get found by the right audiences, drive meaningful conversations with them, and compel them to take action.

Ready to discover the secrets of producing well-conceived, well-written stories? Read on for a handy tutorial on the essentials, along with resources that can help take your content creation to greater levels of success.

Before you proceed: If you aren’t confident you have the right foundation in place to support your creative efforts – or just need a quick refresher on a particular topic – you may want to take a step back and review our previous Road Map to Success guides:

A practical view of content creation

There are three main areas to consider when it comes to establishing and activating your organization’s content creation capabilities:

  1. Who will create/contribute to the content?
  2. How will our creative efforts align with our strategic goals?
  3. How do we craft compelling stories that our audience will love?

1. Establishing your content creation model

There are multiple ways your business can assemble its content creation force, each offering a distinct complement of pros, cons, and practical considerations. To determine the best contributor model to work with – and decide whether to use it in combination with other approaches – you need to weigh factors like the nature of your business, the competition your content will face, the level of expertise your content will require, and the team and budget resources you have. Here are some examples:

  • Hiring a dedicated writing staff: If you place a higher priority on content creation, want to produce a high volume of content, or need content to fill multiple channels and platforms at once, it may be worth having full-time writing talent so you can maintain control of the process.

Incentivize your executives, sales teams, or other specialized employees to contribute content, says @joderama. Click To Tweet

  • Soliciting external contributors: If you are a B2B business that has a strong community of subscribers, known industry thought leaders may be interested in guest blogging on your owned media platform in exchange for valuable backlinks to increase their reach and exposure. Or, if your business has a more B2C focus, you might look to enable your ardent fans and followers to create user-generated content on your brand’s behalf.
  • Automating the process: While content creation via artificial intelligence is in its early stages, there’s every indication that automation will play a significant role in content marketing in the near future. Brands willing to invest in and experiment with the technology will be poised to make a big splash, leaving their competitors behind in the kiddie pool of AI-driven content innovation.

Shape your content creator pool

Looking for more assistance with determining the right creation model and putting your contributors’ talents to work? Check out some of our top resources:

2. Aligning creativity and strategy

Sharing compelling, useful stories your audience will love is an admirable goal for any content brand. But, of course, there needs to be an effective marketing purpose supporting that love fest. In other words, if you aren’t working with the right content formats and types to draw the attention of your target audience or aren’t positioning your content in the right way to drive engagement and conversion, you’ll keep needlessly spinning the wheels of your content engine with nothing tangible to show for your efforts.

Achieving creative and strategic alignment is a top-down endeavor; so, let’s start with the practical and tactical decision-making that should come before you write a single word of content.

Evaluate your format and content type options

According to CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research, social media posts, blog posts, emails, e-books, and video continue to reign supreme when it comes to the content formats and types B2B and B2C marketers rely on the most.

But just because these content options seem to have universal appeal doesn’t mean they are a good fit for every purpose or that there aren’t compelling reasons to work with other, more specialized tactics. It’s important to become familiar with the strengths and limitations of each option so you can make informed decisions on which to pursue.

Some #content options have universal appeal; that doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for every purpose. @joderama Click To TweetHere are some starting points for your research efforts:

Find your unique approach

Next, there’s the matter of how you distinguish the content you create under your chosen tactical umbrellas – an essential consideration if you want your content to rise above the noise, attract and engage the right consumers, and compel them to take action on behalf of your brand.

One way to approach this task is to find a content niche (aka a content tilt) that you can cover better than anyone else in your industry – think of Moz with its Whiteboard Friday blog posts or Hop Grenade Taproom and Bottle Shop using podcasting to become a media powerhouse in the craft brewery industry. By focusing your creative resources around one specialty, you eliminate the paralysis that can come from trying to fill too many content buckets at once and ensure that everything you create under that theme ties to your strategic purpose in an organic way.

To zero in on a viable content niche, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Can we own the conversation in this area for our industry?
  • Does our audience have a pressing – and unmet – need for this kind of content?
  • Do we have the right know-how and production capabilities to consistently create valuable content of this type?

Nail down your plan for strategic-creative alignment

Need more help determining the right content types or the ideal niche to set your content apart from your competition and drive you closer to your business goals? Continue your journey of discovery with these key resources:

3. Crafting your stories

Your content should serve as a platform for communicating your brand’s unique perspectives, capabilities, and value proposition; but it also needs to tell a story that resonates strongly enough with readers to convince them to act. In addition to the usual creative considerations – like determining topics, generating story ideas, and maintaining a consistently high level of creativity and writing quality – content marketers need to be comfortable working within a storytelling framework that leverages the power of persuasion.

Your #content needs to tell a story that resonates w/ readers to convince them to act, says @joderama. Click To Tweet

Identify worthwhile content topics

Kick off your creative ideation process by determining which subjects you should be writing about and eliminating the ones you don’t feel reflect your brand’s identity in the most meaningful and targeted way.

One way to approach this task is to identify some primary subject areas your target audience has actively been searching for information on. Conducting keyword research or using more sophisticated techniques like topic modeling at the start of your ideation process (if you don’t have this data on hand) can help you get a deeper understanding of the challenges your content should be helping readers solve. It can also help you confirm you’ve found a niche where your initiatives might be able to gain a competitive advantage: If your search uncovers relevant questions for which useful answers aren’t forthcoming, it’s probably a topic that’s worth addressing for your audience.

Generate creative article ideas

It takes a lot of creative ideas to fuel a content engine and keep it running smoothly on a long-term basis. Team brainstorming sessions are one great way to help your writers get their creative juices flowing and come up with a high volume of ideas to consider. Another approach is to incorporate word games and creative improvisation techniques – like the ones Cisco Systems’ Tim Washer describes – into your creative ideation process.

Incorporate word games and creative improv techniques in your #content ideation process, says @joderama. Click To Tweet

Prioritize your ideas

Not every idea your team generates is a good fit for your business: Some may be fantastic on paper but require more time and attention to produce than your team can spare; others may be creatively brilliant but not useful for your target audience. Make sure you have a prioritization process – like the core content strategy matrix Meghan Casey uses – to gauge the comparative value and urgency of your content ideas and help you decide which ones to move forward with.

Transform your ideas into resonant stories

Regardless of the creative process you use, content creation boils down to one essential step: the physical act of writing your stories. And when it comes to successful content creation, Steve Jobs’ thoughts on product development certainly apply: Turning a great idea into a great content piece requires considerable craftsmanship.

But that doesn’t mean the writing process has to cause a tremendous amount of anxiety and frustration. Ann Handley once pointed out that learning to become a better writer simply requires you to show up every day and practice your craft. Thankfully, she also provides some valuable tips to help make writing sessions more organized, eliminate unnecessary distractions, and stifle the inner critic that can derail your creative confidence and keep you from meeting your deadlines.

To be a better writer requires showing up every day and doing the work, says @annhandley. Click To Tweet

Strengthen your creative muscles

Over time, the rigors of the writing process can wear on even the most talented and prolific content creators. Look to aids like headline generators, productivity tools/guides, killer examples from inspiring content brands, or a little sage advice from a creative master when your writers need an extra spark of creative energy or a little help beating the occasional bout of writer’s block. 

Enhance your writing quality

Content riddled with typos, grammatical errors, tech issues, or factual inaccuracies can cost you the trust and respect of your audience and, possibly, their patronage. To avoid being mocked for producing lazy, low-quality assets or labeled as a purveyor of fake news, carefully proof, test, and fact-check every content effort to ensure that it is as clear, functional, error-free, and above reproach as possible.  

Master your full creative process

Want to learn more about any of the key components of content creation? Use the following resources to guide your explorations:

Go forth and create

By following this road map, you should find yourself on the path toward more well-managed creative teams, greater strategic and creative alignment, and better brand storytelling overall.

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